The International Bar Association (IBA) has invited Dr Chee Soon Juan to speak at its conference in Dubai on 4 Nov 11. The event is the IBA Rule of Law Symposium and Dr Chee is scheduled to speak on Economic Sustainability and the Rule of Law.
However, Dr Chee needs to apply to the Official Assignee for permission to travel as he was made a bankrupt by Mr Lee Kuan Yew and Mr Goh Chok Tong in 2006 as a result of a lawsuit.
All previous applications, numbering more than 20, to attend conferences overseas have been denied by the OA despite the organisers undertaking to take care of all expenses of Dr Chee’s travel. In this instance, the IBA has also stated that it will pay for Dr Chee’s expenses for his attendance.
The IBA also held its Rule of Law Symposium in Singapore in 2007 which was hosted by the Law Society of Singapore. The PAP had sought to use the Association and its international reputation as a cover for its repressive control. It backfired spectacularly.
Dr Chee attended the symposium and spoke from the floor, engaging then deputy prime minister Dr S Jayakumar about the need for the PAP Government to respect and practice the rule of law in Singapore. The Government had initially tried to prevent the symposium from being opened to the public but failed.
Following the conference, Mr Lee Kuan Yew had testified in court that the organisation had praised Singapore’s judiciary:
Your honour, the International Bar Association decided to honour Singapore and hold its annual conference in this city and you [Dr Chee] were given an opportunity to present your case, with your complaint that Singapore lacks the rule of law. There were some 3000 lawyers there.
I think they left Singapore with a very different impression from what you have projected because we have a letter from the President of the International Bar Association to the organisers, namely the Law Society of Singapore, how successful the meeting was and how impressed they were by the standards they found to obtain in the judiciary… (see here also)
This was not true as IBA subsequently clarified it had written no such letter. Mr Lee’s counsel Mr Davinder Singh later retracted Mr Lee’s remarks and said that it was a “inaccuracy” on his clients part.
In fact the IBA Human Rights Institute subsequently published a report entitled Prosperity versus individual rights? Human rights, democracy and the rule of law in Singapore criticising the judiciary and human rights record in Singapore.
In February this year the IBA released a stinging rebuke of the “systematic repression of freedom” in Singapore when it cited the prosecution of Mr Alan Shadrake for contempt of court.
It also spoke up on the continued prosecution of Dr Chee saying: “Dr Chee, leader of the Singapore Democratic Party (SDP), has been the target of repeated attempts by Singapore’s ruling People’s Action Party (PAP) to stifle his opposition views and prevent him standing for parliament.”
Dr Chee awaits the reults of his application to the OA for his travel to Dubai for the Nov 4 conference.